TO THE PRESENT EDITION.
This book originally owed its existence to an accident, and it was printed under circumstances that prevented the usual supervision of the press by the author. The consequences were many defects in plot, style, and arrangement, that were entirely owing to precipitation and inexperience, and quite as many faults, of another nature, that are to be traced solely to a bad manuscript and worse proof-reading. Perhaps no novel of our times was worse printed than the first edition of this work. More than a hundred periods were placed in the middle of sentences, and perhaps five times that number were omitted, in places where they ought to have been inserted. It is scarcely necessary to add, that passages were rendered obscure, and that entire paragraphs were unintelligible.
Most of the faults just mentioned have now been corrected, though it would require more labor than would produce an entirely new work to repair all the inherent defects that are attributable to haste and to the awkwardness of a novice in the art of composing. In this respect the work and its blemishes are probably inseparable. Still, the reader will now be better rewarded for his time, and, on the whole, the book is much more worthy of his attention.
It has been said that "Precaution" owes its existence to fortuitous circumstances. The same causes induced its English plot, and, in a measure, the medley of characters that no doubt will appear a mistake in the conception. It can scarcely be said that the work was commenced with any view to publication; and when it was finally put into a publisher's hands, with "all its imperfections on its head," the last thought of the writer was any expectation that it would be followed by a series of similar tales from the same pen.
More than this the public will feel no interest in knowing, and less than this the author could not consent to say, on presenting to the world a reprint of a book with so few claims to notice.